The World of Creative Activism
When you think of activism, your mind’s eye may conjure a dusty image of hippies marching with peace signs. But aesthetics change, and a new kind of activism is afoot with a very different look than the old bell-bottomed sort.
Good ideas meet excellent execution in the new world of creative activism. Taking the form of pranks, stunts, faux newspapers, seed bombing, and unusual graffiti, new activism expresses ideas and takes people by surprise.
Activists take the excesses of advertising to task in public space by using the very ads themselves as their canvas, such as this "light graffiti" that uses public flat-screen TV ad screens to thoughtful advantage:
Some enterprising activists went so far as to start their own agency, the Anti-Advertising Agency (AAA). Artist/activist collaborators use “constructive parody and gentle humor” to “de-normalize 'out-of-home' advertising and increase awareness of the public’s power to contribute to a more democratically-based outdoor environment.”
Steve Lambert, one of the founders of AAA, has now embarked on a new creative approach to effecting change. With a New York Times “Special Edition” announcing the end of the Iraq War under his belt in 2008, the creation of a Firefox add-on that replaces ads with art, and collaborations with the Yes Men and Graffiti Research Lab, Lambert is bringing his methods to more burgeoning influencers. He is the founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, a participatory workshop and “home for artists, activists, and scholars to explore, discuss, reflect upon, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice.”
The Center for Artistic Activism, along with other creative activist groups and the Yes Men, have announced a Spring series of speakers every Thursday at 7 p.m. at 20 Cooper Square in Manhattan, New York. The talks are a chance to hear creative activists and revolutionaries and the people who study them discuss acts of creative change. Lectures and workshops on creative tactics and strategies will be the focal point of Creative Activism Thursdays.